Southerners in the United States are known for their “southern hospitality.” From opening up a home to sharing a meal or glass of sweet tea, the south has a reputation for its friendly and generous attitude towards friends, family, and even strangers. Now, the actual definition of hospitality is to love and care for strangers. As Jesus followers, Peter explains that we are to show hospitality without complaint. In other words, we are to joyfully offer help and care for those in need.
Throughout Scripture, we often see the word stranger, which in our modern-day context parallels immigrant and refugee. Over the past few years, it’s been inspiring to see how many individuals in our community and church have stepped up to welcome and love the Syrian and Iraqi refugee families that moved into our community. If there’s ever an example of showing the spirit of hospitality, it’s our love and care for strangers.
Despite the fact that nearly all Americans come from the roots of immigrants, many refugees and immigrants have not been received in this spirit. Yet, this is to be the spirit of the Jesus follower when it comes to showing love, compassion, and hospitality to those who are not like us.
Jesus said, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in.” Confused, the disciples asked, “Well, when did we do these things for You?” Jesus responded by saying, “To the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine or even to the least of them, you did it unto me.” (Matthew 25:35-40).
For the Christian and Jesus follower, the teaching is clear: we are to open up our hearts and homes without complaint to those in need. How will you show hospitality to the “strangers” in your community?